Sally Spath sez...only you can prevent fungus gnats! " Pleeze--have mercy! " What's that flitting around my plants? And-- flying around my head, right in my face?? Yuk! They're trying to get up my nose! Could be that Fred G. Nat and family have moved in!! But, YOU put out the welcome sign! Fred and family just love love love soggy soil. If you keep your houseplants too wet, and leave water in the saucer too long, well, Mr. and Mrs. Gnat will set up housekeeping. Fungi will start to grow in the potting soil, which is just what little junior gnat likes to eat to grow up big and strong. They also will eat leaves or other organic matter laying on the surface of the soil. An entire generation can be completed in as little as two weeks. Female gnats live 7-10 days and lay around 200 eggs. "oooh baby, I'm tired!" When they hatch, they live mostly in the top two to three inches of houseplant soil, munching on fungi in the soil. The trick to controlling Fred and his family and relatives is to make your plant less attractive to him, thereby breaking the life cycle. The most important thing you can do is let your plants dry out as much as possible. Mrs. Gnat won't lay her eggs in dry soil, and your plant will be happier because its roots will be able to breathe. Some websites recommend putting a layer of sand or gravel on top of your pot, as it will dry faster than potting soil. Another tip is to till the top of the soil with a kitchen fork, thus aerating the soil and disturbing the larvae. Also, pick off dead or damaged leaves from the surface of the soil. To catch adult gnats out flitting for a good time, put yellow sticky cards horizontally on your pots as gnats are attracted to them. Apply aerosol insecticides to the surface of the soil to kill adults, or look for a product called Bacillus thuringiensis Israelensis (BTI) to apply as a soil drench. It also is available in flakes or cakes that when placed on surface of soil and watered in, will kill the larvae. If you still have gnats flying around your house, look for another reason, like a water leak inside your home. Don't put out the "For Rent" sign for the Gnat Pack!
Sat, September 29, 2012